© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2002
Routine cold fronts are bringing winter conditions to Tampa Bay.
Species such as speckled trout are the best bet on the nastiest days. Sheepshead and flounder also tolerate the cold and feed throughout the season.
Trout fishing can be enjoyable after the heavy summer gear has been put away. Ultralight spinning outfits can turn an ordinary fight into a battle. Light line allows longer casts and more sensitivity, which leads to more strikes. You can go as light as 4-pound line for trout.
Soft plastic jigs resembling shad and shrimp are productive and easy to fish. It is best to let the jig sink to the bottom before a slow, steady retrieve. Steep dropoffs adjacent to grass flats are a great place to look for trout in cold water. Be prepared, because a trout's bite often goes undetected.
Sheepshead are fun to catch and are underrated by many as table fare. These striped bandits are sneaky and require small hooks and small baits. Cut shrimp into small pieces to make sure they get the hook.
Flounder are inside the basin near the Gandy boat ramp. This area is protected and produces decent numbers of fish. A tandem jig fished on the bottom or live bait will entice them.
-- Dave Walker charters out of Tampa. Call (813) 831-0355.